Monday, April 26, 2010

How The Orioles Got Rhyne Hughes

The obvious answer to the above title is, "He was the PTBNL in the Gregg Zaun deal with the Rays." But there is more to it than that.

When Andy MacPhail took over as President of Baseball Operations in June of 2007, he took to overhauling the Oriole farm system. His first task was to acquire all the quality arms he could get. But he also saw that the prospects at the corner infield positions were thin, to say the least. There were only two 1B/3B prospects of note: Billy Rowell and Brandon Snyder, both former 1st round picks, both flawed in their own ways and both way down the ladder in Delmarva.

MacPhail knew he needed more depth at the corners in the minor league system and many of the trades he's made since have focused on getting upper-level prospects at a discount.

Some of his acquisitions of note:

August 2007 - Acquired 3B Scott Moore from Cubs
December 2007 - Acquired 3B Mike Costanzo from Astros
January 2008 - Signed 1B/3B Oscar Salazar
December 2008 - Acquired 3B Brandon Waring from Reds
June 2009 - Drafted 1B Tyler Townsend in 3rd Rd
June 2009 - Acquired 1B Michael Aubrey from Indians
July 2009 - Acquired 3B Josh Bell from Dodgers
August 2009 - Acquired 1B Rhyne Hughes from Rays

Some guys flamed out (Costanzo), some are still toiling in the minors (Waring, Moore) and some have contributed already (Salazar, Aubrey and now Hughes). The point is, MacPhail increased the depth, gave up little for any of these guys and is now seeing the fruits of this labor in Rhyne Hughes. Hughes may not be a long-term solution but you never know. He certainly offers a short-term upgrade over Garrett Atkins.

(All of this makes the $4.5 million deal for Atkins all the more frustrating. There were plenty of cheaper internal options that could have reasonably duplicated or exceeded his performance.)

Some things in baseball don't change. Branch Rickey said,"From quantity comes quality." and with MacPhail increasing the minor league talent at the corner infield positions, he seems to have found some quality in it. This is not to say that those positions are now strengths in the system...just that it is no longer moribund and it was improved without spending millions.


Jordan said...

My only problem with this trade is that the Rays will receive a 2nd round pick in 2010 because they didn't resign Zaun. If we didn't trade Hughes and signed Gonzalez we'd be even on that 2nd round pick.

DempseysArmy said...

That was a crazy risk for the Rays to offer Zaun arbitration and it was even crazier fro the Brewers to sign him. I'm OK with the Orioles not offering him arb to get that pick.

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